Dealing with Anger

Angry Penguin

I’ve been sad, disappointed, and lonely, but haven’t spent enough time with/on my anger. As some of you have noted, this can be the fuel to help me move forward. Some tips and my commentary on anger from the fabulous Melody Beattie (Codependent No More, page 153, 158-160):

  • Understand the following myths about anger, often believed by codependents:
  1. It’s not okay to feel angry.
  2. Anger is a waste of time and energy.
  3. Good girls don’t feel angry.
  4. My spouse will go away if I get angry with him.
  5. If I feel angry, Husband made me feel that way and he is responsible for fixing my feelings.
  6. If I feel angry, I should punish husband for making me feel that way.
  • Now, stop believing the above myths.Β I have years of subscribing to these myths under my belt. Being raised in a family system poisoned by alcoholism, I came to believe these myths were true as a child, and I carried this baggage into adulthood. Stop believing them? They’re as second nature as breathing. However, I can work on first knowing them, then thinking about them, then processing them through writing, and then trying replacement thoughts instead. For instance, today I started to feel angry that Husband has chosen drinking over his family. I was in church, alone; he’s chosen not to attend in the past. This made me angry. Normally, I would’ve brushed the feeling off and told myself, you’re strong, you don’t need him, quit wasting your mental energy on him and just be present. By constantly brushing aside my anger because I’ve not believed it was okay, a good use of my time, or befitting of an upstanding citizen, I’ve not allowed myself to go through an essential part of the grief process. I recognized that I was engaging in this cycle today and put a stop to it. This is huge for me. I’m patting myself on the back by indulging in writing mid-day (I usually save it for after I tuck my kids into bed) followed by a round of muffin baking, one of my favorite hobbies.
  • Give myself permission to feel angry. Today I allowed myself to feel angry, and then turned it over to God. I’m still working on this right now. I refuse to repress it any longer, and then allow the guilt from my anger to eat me alive.
  • Feel the emotion, and feel any underlying emotions too. Today I was not only feeling angry; I was also feeling abandoned, lonely, and sad. I need to feel these emotions. I will not put a time limit on feeling my emotions. After all, 2013 is the year of me.

This is just a light, adapted version of what I’m reading and thinking about now. If this got you thinking or acting in a different way, I highly recommend grabbing a copy of Beattie’sΒ Codependent No More and reading chapter 14 all the way through. It’s heavy, and I can only digest a few pages at a time. I’ve been working through this chapter for several weeks now. That’s okay. I found it when I needed it and you will, too.

I have so much more to write about anger. This is only part one.

Fellow bloggers, I’m wondering: How do you deal with your anger? Have you unknowingly subscribed to any of those myths about anger?

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9 thoughts on “Dealing with Anger

  1. “After all, 2013 is the year of me.” –> LOVE that! Yes, it is! πŸ™‚

    Anger and I are friends right now. Working on how to harness it and not let it take me to the “crazy place” (like when I feel the need to spy on him). I need to be angry enough to put myself first, which means letting go of him. But the crazy still has to get out somehow. I’ve had a LOT of cathartic moments with my WaveMaster (freestanding, upright bag), boxing and kicking the bejeebies out of it. Highly recommend investing in one from your local sporting goods store! (Along with a pair of 12 oz gloves, if you’re a beginner.)

  2. “Husband is responsible for making me angry and he should fix my feelings”: way, waaay too familiar! Some days he doesn’t talk, or talks about terrible things that I know nothing about from his past, and it pisses me off so much. And I’m angry but I keep quiet, and think to myself that he shouldn’t talk about things like I already knew, because I didn’t and he suddenly dropped a bomb on me like it ain’t no thing. “He made me angry and I should punish him”: shamefully I must admit I do this, not in a premeditated way, but I do. He doesn’t talk to me? Fine, I’m not gonna talk to him either. Tit for tat. But not healthy…. Good post, thank you! When I’m angry I’m pretty much incapacitated, I wonder if it’s not that same guilt doing that to me. I feel trapped, like walls are closing in, claustrophobic almost. Lately we’ve been focusing our energy on getting mad at each other and fighting constructively, and we found out that I definitely need to YELL AT HIM. He’s okay with that, but that’s just the dynamic of our couple; I’m extraverted, he’s introverted but he can take a lot in. Actually, I have something I’ve been festering inside me, and thanks to your post I am now going to talk about it with my partner. Thank you for that. I love reading your blog btw, you are incredibly honest and the effort you’re putting to better yourself is something I deeply admire. I wish you all the best, you and your two little dudes πŸ™‚

  3. Well, sometimes I’m WAY too comfortable with anger. I have to examine what emotion I’m covering up with anger. I think this might come from growing up with mostly males. In other words, in my family, anger was more acceptable, but crying was frowned upon. My cousins and some of the boys I grew up around wouldn’t let me play with them if I cried, so I think I learned to shove down my hurt and sadness. I feel strong when I’m angry but weak when I cry, though intellectually I know that’s ridiculous. It’s strange. I’ve come a long way. I used to feel uncomfortable when others cried or expressed sadness; now I’m fine with others doing it, but deep down I don’t feel like it’s okay for me to cry. I rarely cry and when I do I’m usually alone or around someone I really trust. All that said, most of the women in my life are extremely uncomfortable and don’t quite know how to handle my anger — they prefer that I don’t rock the boat, shut up, smile and act appropriately. It’s a tough balance — too much anger and I come across as unstable. If I repress it, it can seriously eat me up. It’s definitely an ongoing process. I think whatever emotion we have it’s important to learn to feel it. Thinking of you. I’m amazed at how calm and composed you are with everything you’re dealing with.

    • I identify with what you said about not feeling like it’s okay. I’m the same way! I don’t feel calm and composed as much as going through the motions/surviving. Hoping the numbness wears off soon and my real life will start.

  4. For me, when I took a look at my anger, I realize I am usually trying to change, or control. The only person I have control over is myself. I also have learned, for myself, that I choose what to be angry over. πŸ™‚ There’s a lot of peace with that. It’s along the lines of “choose your battles” ya know?

    I used to think that my hubby would take away his love for me if I showed anger at him. Or he’d pull that alcoholic “poor me” behavior and I didn’t want to deal with it. Either way, my anger went unexpressed, which internalized, which became anxiety and an increase on the bathroom scale. LOL Learning to share my feelings in an appropriate way was good for me. I once heard in an al-anon meeting “I can be angry without being hysterical.” That was freeing for me.

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